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Korea's bad rap

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Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:46 pm    Post subject: Korea's bad rap Reply with quote

I am a new grad and I am looking to go to Korea for at least a year to learn, gain experience, and of course save up to pay down my loans Embarassed

I'm seeing a lot of negative feedback on Korea and on utilizing the services of a recruiter. Can I have some objective feedback on what to expect from Korea and recruiters? Is it the directors? The living arrangements? Where does all the negativity come from? I don't expect perfection and I think any overseas position requires adaptation, but are there legit problems I need to be aware of?

The recruting service is English Apple, which has multiple offices in the US and one in SK. If anyone has feedback on them I would appreciate that, and certainly I'd like to hear about any recruiters with a good reputation who work in this region. For a newcomer, I think Seoul or another major city would be a better experience for me.
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Sun Feb 25, 2007 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We work with a couple of reliable agencies in South Korea and have never had any bad experiences. On the contrary they have always delivered what they promised, looked after our job applicants throughout the application process and in one case they even arranged for a teacher to be relocated when things didn’t work out between her and the school that had hired her.

My only warning would be with regards to agencies that ask applicants for a placement fee. Agencies are paid by the schools that hire their recruiting services so be aware of anyone that asks you for money.
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Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 9
Location: South Korea

PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2007 7:26 am    Post subject: Korea Reply with quote

I spent last year in Korea and it was a great experience.
It was my first teaching job and I saved lots of money.
My recruiters were ESLDream and although they kept trying to set me up with jobs in other cities, once they realised I only wanted Daejeon they were good. They even kept in touch afterwards to make sure I was happy.
Maybe a lot of the unhappiness comes from not understanding the people. It is so important for Koreans to "save face" so if you have a dispute with your boss remember to find a solution that doesn't make him look bad. Because the money is so good, I think a lot of teachers stay when they don't like the food, the culture, the people etc. so they become even more unhappy. Hope this helps. Feel free to email me:
I'm in Turkey now and head to Egypt on 12th March.
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Joined: 21 Jul 2008
Posts: 181
Location: Central Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I taught last year at a Korean school in CA and it was a miserable experience. Students came in late, didn't do their homework, and resisted speaking English in class. Each class lasted 3 hours and if a student came in late, it was no big deal to them.

The senior teacher (who understood the Korean mindset) would speak for all three hours and give the students a minimum of work to do (maybe dictation or spelling exercises). At the end of the class, his voice was tired, but all his students were happy because they had listened to English and they all got it by osmosis.

The lazy students complained about me because their grades suffered for lateness and absences. They said I didn't do enough talking in class. Is it so wrong to expect students to actually SPEAK the language?

If we apply the Korean mindset to the world of making cars, their philosophy becomes quite clear: "If we build enough crappy, cheap cars long enough, we will gain market share and; therefore, become a dominant force in manufacturing. People will buy our crap because it is so cheap and we will have made it for a loooooooong time."
How's that marketing strategy working out for you, Korea? Are you gaining market share? Is your won going up in value?
freakin' morons
Rolling Eyes
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Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 1:20 pm    Post subject: Teaching English Abroad - South Korea Reply with quote

I will agree with Sonja on
I think a lot of teachers stay when they don't like the food, the culture, the people etc. so they become even more unhappy

To add to this I would say some people are full of hate no organisation or school or students can make them happy. So one should also think about the kind of person you are in touch with before taking a decision.

Recruitment Agency definitely is a good option when looking at a completely new country about which you know very little. Further, South Koreans do care about their image, so you will hear more good things about South Korean companies than bad.
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Joined: 09 Sep 2010
Posts: 118
Location: Kobe, Sanomiya, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My sister and her fiancee are teaching in a little town in SK, it's working out well for them!

In Japan it's super easy to supplement your paycheck with private students, but for them it's more difficult, something about a religiously-run school.

Either way, good luck!
マンツーマン 英会話 神戸 三宮 リアライズ - James
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Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 3
Location: Suwon, Korea

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with Korea is that it attracts some not so good teachers. After all, you can pretty much drink most of the week away and still save money. Many hagwons have the whole curriculum planned out for you: so no prep needed. Plus, many of the newbie teachers that come here have never lived abroad before, so don't know what to make of it.

Added to that is the unscrupulous bosses who are in the whole game for money and it can be a bad place to work.

If you do your research and know what you're getting it to, Korea can be a great place to be!
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Nelly English

Joined: 07 Mar 2011
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been reading these posts with both curiosity and amazement .

First, I think (without meaning to point fingers) that anybody who hates the food, definitely has a good cause to be "grumpy" since their comfort is jeopardized, and they might feel uncomfortable with this new regime. But on the other hand anybody who really wants to be in a place will make adjustments, find eatable foods. There has to be some foods like vegetables, fruit, etc. that one can make one's own dishes from. I do agree that some countries dishes have an odor that takes getting accustomed to, but once you do get accustomed to them, European, etc. food pales by comparison.

Using "food" as the reason to maladjustment says "Get out now!" And perhaps look into the cuisine of the next country you intend to travel to, so as to avoid such unpleasantness. It will save you a lot of heartache, and stomach ache too.

My second point here has to do with referring to a host country or their products as "crap" even if what you say is true, you have just multiplied your chances of never adjusting, adapting, whatever, by 200%. That's a heavy burden.
Again "Get out as quickly as possible" Why torment yourself with a society that you do not seem to be warming to! It seems to be the only sensible thing to do.

My third point, Of course I can only imagine the situation, but if it were me in front of the class I would appease them to begin with. I agree you have to set the pace, and lay down the law so to speak from the beginning, but . . . .
There is a saying: "Do as I do, not as I say" meaning here, I speak English, eventually the kids (might) well speak English. If I tell (or command) them to do so, it is not going to happen. If you punish them for their lateness, etc. you are not making friends, that's for sure. What does their culture do, "Some times it is the only way to go" Give them what they are used to until they "get used to you" then once you have won them over, gained their trust, you can slowly, slowly turn the tide. Or start in each class with one new to them rule. when they get into that, add little rules as a gradual process. I don't think it would hurt your to speak English to them. Isn't that what you are partly there for!!!

But referring to students as "crap" is a no-no. If you didn't have these "crap students' you wouldn't have a job! Also, if you see them as crap, crap they will be in your eyer forever. Try to see which side your bread is buttered on. Reverence for students as a whole is "the main ingredient" to being a good teacher. otherwise we "smell like rotten meat to these students" They can sense our stance.

I just got grumpy reading the accumulation of these posts, since they are all focused on the same people, which from where I stand says "Do yourself a favour and get out of there" Try to learn from your experiences and know what applies elsewhere. It's not just the "food" . . . .

Yes, Good Luck! And "Leave the Kids Alone"
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Joined: 22 Mar 2010
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Adjust your attitude. Reply with quote

I hardly think food is an excuse for disliking the country you are working in.As somebody already mentioned vegetables and meat are the same all over the world, it's how they are prepared that makes the difference so learn to cook them yourself the way you are used to.

Attitude is all important, if you take the attitude that the natives and their manufactured goods are "crappy" you are defeated from the outset. I have met many teachers in China who take the arrogant attitude that as Americans they are superior to their "third world" students. These people complain about "low" wages. Of course the wages won't be enough if you want to dine out every night, have someone clean up your apartment after you, have food flown in from the states for a party (yes, one woman actually did), and shop in the most expensive department stores to keep up a superior image.

If you are prepared to live like the locals you will be happy and save money wherever you are. If not, don't leave home!
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St. George

Joined: 06 Oct 2004
Posts: 108
Location: Ex Libya

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:51 am    Post subject: Crap & Food Reply with quote

I once turned down a job because of the food. It was on an Italian oil rig in the desert and there were no shops or restaurants for miles. I hate pizzas, pasta and tomatoes, so I can sympathise with some of the posters.

You can give students your best shot and do all the right things and think all the right thoughts and yet still end up with crap because it is their culture. I have no experience with Koreans but I have heard some horrendous stories about them and they remind me of Arabs, with whom I have a lot of experience.

I remember when I first went abroad and being shown around the Training Centre, I was invited to sit in on one of the lessons. At the end of the lesson the teacher said, "Well, what did you think?". "Well", I said. "The students were throwing paper at each other and jumping in and out of the windows, etc, etc...". "No, not them! What did you think of my presentation?"

This is one way of doing it but in the end, you just have to do the best you can with the students you are given. Nevertheless, it can be very dissatisfying.

St. G.
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Joined: 11 Feb 2013
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spent six years in Korea (three years two different times) and 95% of it was very positive.

Some people don't adjust to life overseas and many don't realize that their inability to adjust is THEM, not Korea. Because Korea is a huge jobs market, you tend to hear a few grumbles from time to time.

Many people head overseas not willing to adapt to a different work culture and many potential EFL teachers have been mislead by some TEFL promoters into believing that is all just fun fun fun and travel - all paid for by someone else. They forgot them mention it is a JOB first and foremost. Requires some WORK.

There are problems everywhere in life and you can run into a cr*p employer in the USA, UK or anywhere else. Life happens. It shouldn't cripple one's outlook on life.

I spent two years or more working in each of four other countries and I would say Korea was one of the easier places to work and live. If someone can't hack it there, they won't do too well pretty much anywhere else either.
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